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From Sushi to Soufflé: Why Culinary Hotshot Chose EMLYON

Globetrotter argues a French MBA is the right option for aspiring international entrepreneurs

Kensuke Kitamura brings unusual flavours to his MBA cohort. For a start, he was brought up in Japan and graduated from Hawaii Pacific University in 2006, earning his management spurs in Los Angeles before coming to EMLYON for an MBA.

But it's not just the international angle to his experience that makes him stick out. Kensuke is also a highly successful restaurant manager, who at 27 has already established two thriving businesses in the fiercely competitive US market.

The opportunities sprung out of working as a waiter for extra cash during his undergraduate years. Towards the end of Kensuke’s degree his boss offered him a permanent position and a cocktail of responsibilities if he stayed on after graduating.

"I simply took the job and worked as wedding agent handling transportation, minister, singer, organist and so forth," says Kensuke. "I also established and developed a fast-food restaurant and managed the operation for two years."

"In 2009, I moved to California since my parents wanted start their own restaurant there... I was already experienced and had the know-how, so I decided to quit my job, move to their place and run the restaurant together."

"After two years, the sales grew more than enough and The Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Magazine wrote articles about us."

Kensuke now hopes adding an MBA to all this will open career tracks in marketing and entrepreneurship, as well as help him think outside the box.

But why go all the way to France for that? Why not apply to all of the top schools already on his doorstep in California?

He explains that he left Japan in the first place was because he “always wanted to be [an] internationalized business man." Staying in any one place for too long would defeat the point of leaving home. After six years, he’d seen enough of the US and "wanted to experience something new."

“Moreover, France is one of the representative countries in Europe both in economics and in culture, so I thought school in France would provide me valuable experience during the program.”

He also cites the 31 students from 14 countries in his batch at EMLYON as a major incentive.

"I definitely want to stay in Europe for at least 3 years to maximize my international experience... But I probably want to have my own company in 10 years. 10 years of professional experience should do."

“I found EMLYON had a great entrepreneurship oriented MBA program that would be very useful for my entrepreneurial future.”